This might be the most unusual season in college basketball history with full conferences skipping the season, dozens of teams on COVID-related hiatuses, and an incredibly uncertain non-conference schedule, but for college basketball fans this season will count just as much as any other. This means that head coaches still have a mandate to win, and the coaches that fail to do so may not be here next November. Here are the five coaches with the best odds to lose their jobs this season.
5. Shaka Smart, Texas
Shaka burst onto the scene in 2011 when his VCU Rams made a stunning run to the Final Four. Smart has had only one losing season in the decade since, but he’s also never even been back to the Sweet 16. The stakes got much higher for Smart when he moved to Texas for the 2015-16 season and Smart has not yet lived up to the challenge. Texas has not won an NCAA tourney game during Smart’s first five seasons in Austin, though they did win the NIT in 2019. But Smart did not get hired to make the NIT and he needs to cross the threshold of winning in March this season for him to get a seventh season at Texas. The good news for Smart is that according to the people who set the college basketball odds, his Longhorns have a legitimate chance of making the NCAA tournament, and even winning some games when they get there.
4. Steve Prohm, Iowa State
Prohm’s Cyclones have been the most uneven team in the county, switching off seasons between winning 24 games plus a game in the NCAA tournament, like they did in 2017, and then going 13-18 in their follow up. Prohm essentially completed this feat twice, because after going 23-12 and making the tournament in 2019, the Cyclones collapsed to 12-20 in 2020. There might be some patience for Prohm in Ames if he can win 23 or 24 games every other year but back-to-back 20 loss seasons might spell doom for Prohm.
3. Jerod Haase, Stanford
Haase was a controversial hire for Stanford since Haase had not set the world on fire at UAB. Haase’s tenure with the Blazers saw him go 7-9 in Conference USA twice before winning a tournament game in 2015 and making the NIT with 26 wins in 2016. Well, the NIT is as good as it has gotten for Haase with the Cardinal, as Haases has also had two losing seasons, before going 20-12 in the ultimately cancelled 2020 season which likely would have seen Stanford back in the NIT. For March 2021, Haase has to be thinking more NCAA tournament and less NIT. The good news for Haase is that this is the best team he has ever had, with freshman phenom Ziaire Williams potentially coming to the rescue of Haase’s job.
2. Dave Leitao, DePaul
From 2002-2005, Leitao did such a good job at DePaul that it earned him a move to the ACC with Virginia. The coach’s tenure with the Cavaliers ended up being short-lived, with the team only making the tournament one time in four seasons. After stints in the G League, and as an assistant at Missouri and Tulsa, DePaul gave Leitao a second chance at the gig, and it has not gone well. During his first go-round, the Blue Demons were in Conference USA, but they have moved on to the Big East where Leitao is 49-91. Leitao has had one winning season out of five, when DePaul went 19-17 and made the CBI finals. For Leitao to get a sixth season, it stands to reason that DePaul needs to be above .500 this season, and no worse than 7-11 in the Big East.
1. Jim Christian, Boston College
At this point, Christian’s seat is so hot it’s almost not even hot anymore. Now in his seventh season at BC, Christian has not even sniffed the NCAA Tournament. He’s only made the NIT one time, in 2018, the only winning season during his tenure. Christian’s record in the ACC is a shocking 25-85. Even an 8-10 mark in the ACC would be a career better for Christian, so it’s extremely difficult to pinpoint what Christian needs to do to keep his job.
Bonus: Sean Miller, Arizona and Will Wade, LSU
There are two prominent coaches who are in more trouble for their performance off of the court than for their team’s on-court record.
At Arizona, Sean Miller has won nearly 75 percent of his games, only missing the NCAA’s once since his rookie season, and making the Elite Eight three times. However, questions remain about his role in a recruiting scandal investigated by the FBI, and it has seemed for several years that the hammer could drop on Miller’s tenure in Arizona at any time.
Will Wade has turned LSU into a winner, going 46-15 in his past two seasons with the Tigers. However, Wade is also involved in an FBI-level recruiting scandal and has already received a major suspension for his actions. An independent panel is eventually going to rule on Wade’s case and it’s highly likely he could be coaching his final season at LSU.